Must I accept all of Dad's women?
Growing up in a house with only my father and no mother had its challenges. For one there often felt like a void in our home, one that was difficult for me to fill. When I was about ten years old my father started dating again and the women never stopped coming. Some would be around for a couple of weeks, their presence faint at first, before slowly becoming more regular features in our lives. As I got older I started wondering if I should accept all of Dad's women, or if some could be left behind.
My father always seemed excited to introduce his new partners to me, his voice filled with enthusiasm when he did so. At first I welcomed them in, taking comfort in their presence and appreciative of any semblance of family. I adored their compliments and the little gifts they brought, feeling like I was being spoiled by yet another mother-figure. But as the years passed by, it felt increasingly like Dad was using each woman to fill a void created by the goodbye of the last one.
Many of the relationships were relatively short-lived and as a result I found myself caught between welcoming them in and protecting my heart from getting hurt. It was difficult not to feel connected to the women after they had lived with us a while and become a part of the family dynamic. Yet many of the relationships ended abruptly and I felt myself pouring energy into something that wasn't meant to last. Watching the flash of joy in my father's eyes as each new partner moved in and then just as quickly moved out began to erode away at my spirit. I stopped believing in love lasting forever, instead seeing it as something temporary; something to be experienced only fleetingly.
And yet, despite knowing it might not last, I also began seeing these women as teachers. Each one taught me something valuable about life, love, and relationships. There was the woman who taught me how to enjoy life's simple pleasures and always shared her sweet treats with me, like her homemade brownies. And then the one who taught me how to care for other people better and even showed me how to knit my own scarf. These women were a reminder that even those fleeting moments can become valuable memories if we allow them to settle into our hearts and minds.
For these reasons, I eventually decided that while I could not accept all of Dad's women, I could learn something important from each of them; whether that be patience, creativity, or respect. In doing so, this also allowed me to accept my father for accepting them in his life, too. That is when I finally realized that sometimes we must step forward and open our arms wide enough to welcome those who can help us understand ourselves – no matter how fleeting their presence may be.